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MSc Health Research

Why we're great

  • Expand your knowledge in health research on our course that is consistently highly ranked
  • Join a School that has multi-professional staff, including clinically qualified lecturers, sociologists, and social policy and management specialists
  • Enhance your future with a highly valued postgraduate qualification

Course options2017-18

Duration: 1 year
Start month: October
Location: Colchester Campus
Based in: Health and Human Sciences
Fee (Home/EU): £6,125
Fee (International): £15,450
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
PGT fees information

Course enquiries

Telephone 01206 872719

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About the course

This course offers an introduction to the key methodological and theoretical aspects of health-related research from a social scientific perspective. You combine perspectives from the areas of sociological research methods, and the specific application of these research methods, to the burgeoning health context of an ageing population and increased need for health care.

This programme should be of interest if you wish to pursue a career in health-related research, or employment in health related governmental and non-governmental organisations, or to pursue further postgraduate study to doctoral level.

On our course, you gain:

  • Knowledge of the core areas of social science, organisational studies and health, including health policy, public health, epidemiology and medical sociology
  • An understanding of the qualitative and quantitative approaches to researching issues of health and healthcare
  • Advanced training in researching psychosocial aspects of health and wellbeing

Our MA Health Research is one of two programmes we offer that can either be taken simply as Masters-level programmes or alternatively can be used as the Masters element of our ESRC-accredited pathways for our Doctoral Training Centre.

As part of our ESRC-funded doctoral training pathway, your course content, aims and outcomes are closely allied to the ESRC ‘7 Global Research Challenges’ criteria. This currently means that we focus on developing areas of scholarship in terms of the issues of health, well-being and psychosocial issues, understanding individual behaviour and global economic performance, policy and management.

Please note that this course can also be studied via modular, credit accumulation.

Our expert staff

Our staff are multi-professional, including clinically-qualified lecturers, sociologists and social policy and management specialists, so they have clinical and academic credibility.

Your future

We currently have graduates working in both clinical and management positions in local trusts, hospitals and care organisations, as well as in local and county councils.

This course also lends itself to progression onto our PhD Health Research, or our PhD Health and Organisational Research.

A postgraduate qualification is a major achievement and greatly valued by employers. For some jobs a postgraduate qualification may be essential, for others it offers a competitive edge. Our graduates go into a variety of jobs, where the key employability skills and knowledge they have gained through postgraduate study are put to good use.

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Example structure

Postgraduate study is the chance to take your education to the next level. These carefully selected modules will give you the chance to explore, question, and create powerful ideas. Picked to give you an extensive and in-depth education, they’ll equip you with the specialist knowledge, vital transferrable skills, and the confidence to make a genuine difference to the world around you.

We’re reactive, we’re pioneering, we never stand still, so modules might change from year to year in response to new developments and innovation. Those listed below show how a typical course might look, but more detail on course structure, including details of all optional modules, is available on our Programme Specification.

Year 1

Your dissertation is the pinnacle of your masters degree. We offer dissertation workshops held throughout the academic year which help you select a topic and provide guidance on writing up your research. You are allocated a dissertation supervisor appropriate for your topic and/or selected methods.

How do you critically analyse quantitative data? What are the appropriate statistical techniques for your research questions? And how do you interpret your results? Learn to conduct investigations relevant to your own research, as well as be a critical user of other research.

How do you interpret studies using panel data? What are the various approaches to panel data analysis? And can you analyse the same data using different methods? Gain the knowledge and confidence to manipulate panel data sets, while developing practical skills in selecting and conducting panel data analysis.

Suitable for Masters and Doctoral students undertaking research methods training, this is a general introduction to process of qualitative research as applied to the study of issues of health and illness. The course places a central focus on processes and practices of qualitative research. At the end of this course you will be aware of central issues in the conduct of qualitative research.

This module examines major perspectives in social science disciplines as they are applied to health and clinical research. Research in health and healthcare needs to evaluate and account for scientific and social scientific information produced by a wide range of methods. In this module, an in-depth understanding of research methodology is facilitated through studying the philosophical foundations of methods. Furthermore, an understanding of the links between theory and method, at different levels, is also necessary for research at postgraduate level. This module therefore additionally examines some of the philosophical foundations of health-related social research and (to a lesser extent) places the origins and development of these philosophical foundations in their historical and socio-political contexts. A range of philosophical, theoretical and applied texts are examined during the course of the module.

What are the principles of modern survey design? And what is best practice? Explore the fundamentals of survey design and the concept of survey error. Analyse different types of design and modes of data collection, drawing on real-life examples. Build the transferable study skills required to conduct professional surveys.

Society in general is becoming increasingly litigious. In the context of health care, law and health care law in particular has had a profound influence on practice. Managers and clinicians are called to account for their actions, justifying resource decisions as well as clinical judgements.An understanding of the law and moral reasoning is thus an important knowledge base for health care staff. This course aims to provide an overview of the legal and ethical frameworks which underpin and govern the practice of health care and research.

The aim of this module is to provide you with the theoretical basis of leadership as applied to practice, which supports health and social care organisations in meeting the needs of patients and service users. This course is suitable for health and social care practitioners including nurses, allied health professionals, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and, speech and language therapists and other health professions, as well as social care staff working in relevant roles.

This module provides you with an advanced understanding of the research study designs commonly used in health research. It combines a theoretical and a practical approach to enable you to search for, obtain, and understand the research literature, and provides you with the critical skills to analyse and synthesize material into a literature review.

How do you deal with sampling error? What problems arise from non-response errors? And can you reduce such errors? Examine methods for mitigating non-responses errors and understand the key issues in managing data and survey processes, while gaining practical experience of designing samples.


  • Teaching staff include clinically qualified lecturers in adult and mental health nursing, physiotherapy and pharmacy, as well as health psychologists, medical sociologists, social policy, informatics and management specialists
  • The multidisciplinary nature of our School and its rapid growth has fostered a dynamic and innovative learning environment

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UK entry requirements

A degree with an overall grade of 2.1.

International and EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Email for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.

IELTS entry requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

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Visit us

Open days

We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.


Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.


You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates.

Your application cannot be processed without these documents, so please ensure you read the guidance notes you will find in Help with your application in the drop down list next to the online application form.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

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The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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